Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)
The Yugoslav Ambassador called to see me upon my return to Washington. The Ambassador had returned from his trip to London during my absence from the city.
The Ambassador seemed decidedly optimistic with regard to his trip to London and gave me to understand that his own situation had been greatly strengthened thereby.
He said that the position of his Government in London was anomalous in as much as the new Prime Minister, Mr. Yovanovitch had never as yet had any conversation with Mr. Churchill and his government was not represented at the British Foreign Office by any ambassador in view of the fact that the Serbian and Croatian elements in the government had not been able to agree upon any individual acceptable to both elements as ambassador. He further said that he was sorry to feel that most of the chief figures in the government were “old and tired”.
The Ambassador said that he had several urgent messages to convey to the President from the King of Yugoslavia and hoped that the President would receive him next week in order that he might deliver these messages. Among the matters he desired to take up in this conversation with the President was, first, the fact that the concentrated foods and vitamins which the President had promised would be shipped to the forces of General Mihailovitch had safely reached Cairo but had been in storage there for a long time past and there was no evidence that the British authorities had the slightest intention of making them available to General Mihailovitch. He further desired to request most urgently that American officers be designated as attaches to General Mihailovitch, both in order that we might know through them the true state of affairs in Serbia and in order that the sole contact of General Mihailovitch with the outside world should not be only through the group of British officers attached to him. The Ambassador emphasized the very bad relations existing between General Mihailovitch and these British officers, the recent violent dispute which had flared up between them, and the fact that General Mihailovitch was unable even to communicate with his own Government except [Page 1004]through British channels. The result of this situation was that neither Mihailovitch nor the Yugoslav Government knew whether all the cables sent from either source reached their destination or whether the text thereof was not censored by the British when it suited their own purposes.
The Ambassador also indicated the concern of the Yugoslav Government at certain recent developments in London. He said that they had learned from conversations of the members of the British Government that the British Government was apparently opposed to the reconstitution of Yugoslavia and apparently favored the splitting up of the component parts of Yugoslavia into separate entities all of which were to form part of a Danubian federation. The Ambassador said that he believed that the Croat-Serb difficulties could probably be ironed out and that it was the considered opinion of all of the present elements in the Yugoslav Government in London that Yugoslavia must be reconstituted but under a different form of government. What they had determined to achieve was the creation of a new Yugoslavia which would be in fact a crown union with complete local autonomy granted to the Slovenes and the Croats as well as to the Serbs, the three separate units being bound together solely in that which related to national defense and foreign relations.
In conclusion the Ambassador gave me to understand that he had now been granted sufficient authority so as to be able to cope with the individuals and elements of a quasi-official character which had been operating in the past in the United States with the consent of the Yugoslav Government and which had proved so disruptive a force from the standpoint of unifying the various factions within Yugoslavia.
The Ambassador seemed to feel that relations with the Soviet Union were improving rather than deteriorating and that some means would be found whereby the forces of General Mihailovitch and the so-called Partisans would be obliged to cooperate in the general war effort.